For lots of gamers, the power of the medium is its ability to place us in the shoes of other people, making tough choices that we’d otherwise never need to contemplate.But how does that message of power and opportunity spread outwards, away from the mostly indie games that address serious issues, and the relatively small number of people who celebrate these noble efforts?
Dwarf Fortress is barely a blip on the mainstream radar, but it’s an object of intense cult adoration. Its various versions have been downloaded in the neighborhood of a million times… At bottom, Dwarf Fortress mounts an argument about play. Many video games mimic the look and structure of films: there’s a story line, more or less fixed, that progresses only when you complete required tasks. This can make for gripping fun, but also the constrictive sense that you are a mouse in a tricked-out maze, chasing chunks of cheese. Tarn envisions Dwarf Fortress, by contrast, as an open-ended “story generator.” He and Zach grew up playing computer games with notebooks in hand, drawing their own renditions of the randomly generated creatures they encountered and logging their journeys in detail. Dwarf Fortress, which never unfolds the same way twice, takes that spirit of supple, fully engaged play to the extreme
As the gaming industry matures and becomes an increasingly important form of cultural communication akin to painting or film, work created by both genders becomes ever more important. The Game Center, under the chairship of Frank Lantz, views their mission as primarily cultural and not strictly technical.
Even at that young age, I was crying myself to sleep, praying to wake up as a girl, with no memory of being a boy. Outwardly, I was just your typical roughhousing little boy, I didn’t ask to play with Barbies, I didn’t insist on being called a girl, I didn’t demand girl’ clothes. Those things were much much too scary to ask for at the time. The only way someone would be able to tell something was amiss was if they paid close attention to the way I used to play Super Mario Bros. 2. I used Princess Peach obsessively. I still have muscle memory for her floaty jumps and the longer length of time to pull up turnips, even to this day.
In fact, engagements in which wargames have saved lives — on one or both sides of a conflict — are not hard to identify. Wargaming is widely credited with helping the U.S. Navy prevail in the Pacific during World War II. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who commanded the Pacific fleet, is quoted as saying, “The war with Japan had been re-enacted in the game rooms [at the Naval War College] by so many people and in so many different ways that nothing that happened during the war was a surprise — absolutely nothing except the kamikaze tactics towards the end of the war; we had not visualized those.”
Megagames have no strict definition, but here’s an outline of the (pretty typical) first one that I tried two years ago. Strange alien forces mass near the earth, alarming the world’s governments. Multiple teams of three-to-six players represent various nations, and teams take on roles like diplomats or military leaders. Each team plays its own straightforward game of economics to balance a country’s budget, fund the military, and direct scientific research.
It’s a simple experience, but that makes it all the more effective in communicating the dangers we all face as illness-causing bacteria evolve to get around our methods of killing it. The game was created in partnership between game developer Preloaded and The Longitude Prize, which is currently pushing scientists to create better tests for bacterial infections so that only the right antibiotics are used to combat illness in a targeted manner. That way, the overuse of antibiotics will slow along with the evolution of bacteria that react to it.
Anastasia Salter sketches a concise 5-step overview that will ground you in the basics, while Jane McGonigal outlines a basic 10-step process to designing an ARG in a slideshow format. Christy Dena, an experienced pervasive game designer, highlights some examples of flowcharts and mind maps used in the preliminary design process. You might also want to read Rui Corado’s blog post, where he details the back end of an ARG where you play a forensic investigator.
The patients who fully tested out their fears in virtual reality by lowering their defences showed very substantial reductions in their paranoid delusions. After the virtual reality therapy session, over 50% of these patients no longer had severe paranoia at the end of the testing day.
There were even benefits for those who confronted situations they feared in virtual reality while still using their defences: around 20% of this group no longer having severe paranoia at the end of the testing day.
In the trailer above for the movie My Urban Playground, there’s a quick discussion of the fact that Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive’s wildly successful Cities: Skylines has been used for real-world urban planning — of a new transportation system in Stockholm, Sweden.
It’s part of a larger discussion of how games can interact with real cities, which is the subject of the documentary.